How to fix the critical shortage of Mental Health professionals- 1 example within our own community

chrostowskiThe American Psychological Association reports alarming concerns about the critical shortage of mental health professionals.Access to mental health care is worse than other types of medical services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2010 that the country had 156,300 mental health counselors. Access to mental health professionals is worse than for other types of doctors: 89.3 million Americans live in federally-designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, compared to 55.3 million Americans living in similarly-designated primary-care shortage areas and 44.6 million in dental health shortage areas. According to the National Institute on Health nearly one in five counties (18%) in the nation had unmet need for non-prescribers and nearly every county (96%) had unmet need for prescribers.  Learn what Aurora Behavioral Health Services is doing to help.

The Counseling Psychology program at Marquette University educates and trains Master’s level counseling psychologists and Doctoral level counseling psychologists. The College of Education at Marquette University annually recognizes a community partner who has had a significant impact on the training of their students. Aurora Behavioral Health Services (ABHS) was named as the Human Service Partner Award recipient for 2014 for the outstanding training provided to Marquette students in the Counseling Psychology program.

The Human Services/Foundation Partner Award recognizes collaborative community partners with whom we share the resources, rewards, and risks associated with serving the community and advancing the field of education and mental health.

Jay Chrostowski, PsyD, Director of the student placements at Aurora Behavioral Health Services describes the collaboration. “We are helping to develop the next generation of behavioral health providers. We have had students placed in the eating disorder program, mental health partial hospital program, mental health intensive outpatient program, and in the addictions programs at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, and at the Neuropsychology Service at Aurora St. Lukes’s Medical Center. Our relationship with this program began over 10 years ago at the behavioral health outpatient health center at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where we established an affiliation agreement with Marquette University’s Counseling Psychology program. Our first placements were with child/adolescent group therapy services at Aurora Sinai, and we expanded our training opportunities in following years. The relationship is especially successful for the substance abuse programs because the students obtain hours towards a State of WI certification in substance abuse.  It has been a very good relationship promoting workforce development.”

Aurora Behavioral Health is able to provide excellent real-life training/educational experiences for the students, and frequently Aurora Behavioral Health Services hires former students after they graduate.  This allows us to get to know the skills, work ethic, and values of each student prior to hiring, which is part of why ABHS has such an excellent staff.

The award was presented as part of a larger award ceremony honoring students, faculty, and community agencies on Tuesday, April 22nd.


Teen Dating Violence – Has It Ever Happened to You?

While many people may be familiar with crisis of domestic violence in our nation, awareness of dating violence in teen relationships is not as prevalent.  Understanding, identifying and breaking the pattern of teen dating violence have crucial implications for a teen’s future.  Experiencing dating violence as a teen places a teen at significant risk for abusive relationships in adulthood.

In a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 5 adult women and approximately 1 in 7 adult men who experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner report that they first experienced some form of partner abuse between the ages of 11 and 17.  Per the US Department of Justice, 1 in 3 teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, but only 33% of teens tell anyone about it.

Equally shocking is parental lack of awareness of what their teen is suffering.  For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that 82% of parents whose teen was receiving 10 – 30 harrassing texts per hour from their romantic partner were not aware this was occurring.  Teen dating violence occurs within every socioeconomic status, race and culture, with the abuser and victim being of either or the same gender.  However, for the purpose of this article the victim will be identified by female pronouns and the abuser by male pronouns.

Violence in dating relationship can take the form of emotional, physical, sexual abuse or stalking.  Examples include:

  • Emotional:  Criticizing, insulting, shaming, and belittling comments. Yelling and name-calling.  Dictating what she can wear, music to listen to, whether or not she can get a job, and if so, what kind.   Continuous, unfounded accusations or interrogation of what she does and with whom she spends time.  This may result in her spending less time with friends and family to avoid his rages and questioning.   The boyfriend blames her for his problems, and for being a problem to him.  Tells her no one will love or want her if she breaks up with him, or, he may threaten to kill himself and/or her if she leaves him.
  • Physical:  hitting, pinching, hair-pulling, punching, burning choking, kicking, being hit by thrown objects.
  • Sexual:  Rape.  Being  forced to perform unwanted sexual acts with him, or with his friends.  Forced to have sex without use of protection.  Makes her watch him have sex with another girl.
  • Stalking:  emailing, calling or texting her incessantly (10 or more times an hour) to check on her whereabouts or to justify what she is doing.   Showing up unexpectedly when she is out with other friends.  Leaving threatening notes in her school locker or on the windshield of her car.

The abused teen may not admit to being abused or even realize she is in an abusive relationship.  When meeting with a teen and/or her parents/caregivers, it is recommended to assess for the following as these could possibly indicate the teen is in an abusive relationship:

  • multiple, recurring and unexplained bruises or marks
  • decline in academic performance
  • increasing isolation from family and other friends
  • numerous somatic complaints such as headaches and stomaches
  • significant change in bathing, dressing and other self-care habits
  • stops doing enjoyed activities to spend time with her boyfriend
  • she is afraid of being around her boyfriend and equally afraid not to be around him because she knows how upset he becomes
  • she makes excuses or apologizes for her boyfriend’s mood and behavior to her friends and family
  • she is having more arguments and fights with her parents
  • she feels like she must watch everything she does or says when with him and will do anything to please him to avoid angering him
  • she believes him when he says that she is responsible for how he treats her

Caregivers may feel guilty about not knowing their teen is being abused, or they may blame the teen for not telling them what occurred when the abuse is finally revealed.  Such feelings are best addressed and processed by the therapist with the parents only.  It’s important to let the parents know that sharing their feelings of guilt or blame with the teen is not helpful, and may dissuade her from openly communicating with the parents about any other abusive incidents or contact with the boyfriend that might occur in the future.  Parents should encourage and support her involvement in extracurricular activities and contact with friends.

Laura Mirhoseini, Psy.D.  is a psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center-Burlington.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing teen dating violence, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223,  visit our web site, or access the National Teen  Dating Abuse Hotline 1-866-331-9474, 1-866-331-8453 TTY or Text “loveis” to 77054 (Peer advocates are available to talk, text, or chat online 24/7)

How do you create and maintain structure for children?

Eight helpful hints for parents

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Diane Bucaro, LCSW, is a therapist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Wauwatosa

Have you ever had a parent tell you that every morning they are 15 minutes late to work? Or that their child is  glued to their favorite cartoon and they need to do their homework, chores, and get ready for bed in the next 30 minutes?

Here are some general tips/guidelines I use with parents.

1. Most kids respond well to a routine. Whenever possible have consistent bed times, wake up times, and meal times. (Per Super Nanny 4:30-5:30pm is the best dinner time for children younger than age 5. Obviously, this will depend on work schedules, do the best you can given your family’s needs).

2. Sleep is essential. Children between the ages of three and six need 10 to 12 hours of sleep overall. By age four or five, children typically have outgrown a nap. Children ages seven to twelve need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

3. Have the parent do their best to offer nutritious foods. Parents can have a pad of paper in the kitchen to jot down meal ideas or if you are running low on an item. Preparing meals ahead of time to heat up when you get home, and researching crockpot recipes can be very helpful for busy parents. It is also wonderful to have at least 3 “go to meals” — something that can be made quickly and easily at home (pasta, sandwiches) that is not the drive thru at the nearest fast food chain. When it comes to new foods and specifically vegetables it is also helpful to remember that it may take several trials of a food before a child may say they “like it”.

4. Have house rules and established consequences for “broken rules”. If parents have established consequences they are less likely to become “heavy handed” or ignore them and regret this later. However, sometimes ignoring is an appropriate strategy. An example of appropriate ignoring maybe when the child burps loudly at the table and is looking directly at the parent for a reaction. In situations like that, any reaction plays into the child’s hands.

AUR_108443959 (1)When applicable, use positive reinforcement such as “good job, I’m so proud of you”. Make a behavioral chart or plan for things that may be more difficult for that child. The parent can develop a token system for a specific time frame of positive behavior.

Dr. Matthew A. Johnson, has developed a system called “Positive Parenting with a Plan” which has specific guidelines to use positive and negative reinforcements for behavior.  He has written a book for parents if they need more help to guide behavior for children ages 5 and up. Some kids respond well to time outs or having treasured objects taken away for a short period of time (1-7 days, the younger the child the shorter the time).

5. Organization: a place for everything. This can be essential to get out the door on time. Have a place for coats, shoes, backpacks and papers. Often we take off items off near the outside door or set down bags, unload items. This area can soon be cluttered and in disarray, especially if there are multiple children in the home. Have a system where kids stuff hats and mittens in their coat sleeves as soon as they take them off. Another option is to set out a basket for hats and mittens. Have a system for kids’ school papers after they have completed them. Have items ready the night before school/work.

6. Have adults be positive role-models by taking good care of themselves and overall showing displays of good citizen. Example, you find an iPhone at the library and you turn it into lost and found.

7. If possible, have a support network of relatives and friends that are positive or may understand what it is like to be raising children or may even be able to give you a break from time to time.

8. Screen time, less is more. If you think about it the more time in front of a screen is typically the less time for exercise, academics, creativity and social interaction. Some families decide to have regular TV times, computer or game times as a reward. I often recommend for the television to be off when getting ready for school in the morning, as well as during meal-times and homework times.

If a parent is really struggling with challenging behaviors or there is a concern that the child is often sad, angry, aggressive, inconsolable or having some other social/emotional distress it can be very helpful to have the child/family assessed for therapy services.

For more information, contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital at 1-877-666-7223 or visit the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital website.



Overcoming barriers: May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health America continues its tradition of celebrating “May is Mental Health Month,” which began in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.
Mental health month 2014 Mind Your Health
Mental illnesses are medical illnesses. One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 lives with serious, chronic illness.

On average, people living with serious mental illness live 25 years less than the rest of the population. One reason is that less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment.

The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it. That’s why awareness is so important. We want people to understand mental illness and join a dialogue in our community. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need.

When mental health care isn’t available in a community, the results often are lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, more welfare and much more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and even courts, jails and prisons.

To access free screenings for depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns visit our screening center

If you or someone you know would benefit from addiction treatment or mental health services, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

mental health month 2013

Linda White named among 2012 Nurses of the Year

Congratulations to Linda White, an RN at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, on being named Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Nurse of the Year!!

Linda began her caregiving experience as an aide in the 1970s at Glendale Nursing Home and the Comprehensive Health Care Facility in Sheboygan County.

Her peers needed to encourage her to go to Nursing School and she eventually signed up and was put on a 3 year waiting list. While on the waiting list Linda took class after class to prepare herself for clinical experiences.

Linda became a Registered Nurse in 1981. She worked on the Behavioral Health unit at Sheboygan Memorial for 5 years before taking her next job at Family Hospital in Milwaukee on the Geropsych unit. Family Hospital closed and Linda moved with the Geropsych program to Good Samaritan Hospital.

When Good Samaritan closed Linda became the Charge Nurse on the Geropsych unit at Aurora Sinai. In 2003 APH was blessed to welcome Linda and several of her peers as the Behavioral Health units at Aurora Sinai and SLMC were closed. Linda and her peers brought years of experience to our current Center of Excellence at APH.

Personally Linda is involved in her church and participates in the Women’s Retreats as the creative arts person. Linda is a fabulous cook and baker. She takes orders for her bakery and she shares them with staff and patients at APH. They are truly works of art and people feel guilty eating them.

Linda raised three daughters as a single mother, has 10 grandchildren and 2 great grandsons. She lives in Sheboygan County on her 35 acre farm where she raises chickens, horses, steers, and soon goats. Plans to build a goat house are in the works. Linda has 8 gardens going at any time during the Wisconsin growing season. And yes, she works full time.

The attention of this award is a little overwhelming for Linda as she is quite humble. She said, “Knowing I have helped someone else is important to me. Many people just want to be listened to. We all need to take the time to listen more. Just sit down and listen.”

I like to believe that Linda is someone who has discovered her gifts and unselfishly shares them with others. We are lucky and blessed to have Linda in our profession.  Congratulations, Linda!

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.